In order to cover what is undoubtedly a tremendous amount of information to sift through, our team had decided to break K-12 education down into the following 5 pillars:

1. Tools of the Trade/Hardware

2. Teachers and Standards

3. European Influence

4. Race Issues

5. Public vs. Private Economies

Regarding the above pillars, we also concluded that our research would focus on the area of public education beginning from the early 1800s… in other words, the pre-internet days of education. The particular section I was assigned to research was the one titled “Teachers and Standards.” The main question that needed to be asked was, “how have teachers changed, both in their qualifications and teaching methods since the days of the one-room school house?”

As I delved through academic journals and websites I seemed to only be finding bits and pieces of what I was looking for and it was only filling a minuet portion of my education timeline. It was only when I broadened my search to the “history of education in America” that I found what I was looking for. Among one of the most helpful websites I discovered was that of PBS.org. It seems that one must look at the changing characteristics of the K-12 classroom in order to discover what the requirements were to be a teacher during the earliest days of schooling. In other words, as the environment of the classroom changed, so did the qualifications of the teacher.

The earliest indications of schooling began in the 1600s when the sole subject taught was on Protestantism. This is relevant to mention because teachers during this time were primarily men, which later would change. In the 1800s, schoolteachers had very little educational backgrounds. In fact, according to James Carter, an education reformer in the 1820s, teachers had rarely any education beyond what they had learned in the very schools they had to teach in. Interestingly, in the rural schoolrooms of America, it wasn’t unusual to find a local farmer teaching the class. During the nineteenth century, the American schoolhouse often consisted of one-room where students of various ages would come together to be taught by one teacher. Interestingly, the singular teacher responsible for the education of these students was often an unmarried woman who could very well be younger than some of the students she taught (PBS.org). The early school curriculum consisted of few subject. They primarily consisted of math, writing and reading. Teachers also made it a point to teach young students good manners. Misbehaving in the classroom was obviously unacceptable. As the American education system progressed, teachers were forced to adapt to the societal changes as well. In the 1950s, segregation and social inequality plagued schools and created a rift in the educational system. Teachers became more than educators, they became political activists as well. At the conclusion of our timeline we find educators adapting to the cutting edge tools that are defining our classrooms and helping to pave the way for education in the 21st century.

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